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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Care of your cast

Your cast is protecting your injured bones while you heal. While it may take a few days to get used to your cast, it's important to keep it in good conditions, so it can continue protecting you. That will help you to heal as well and as quickly as possible.

Drying the cast

Different casts will dry and reach their maximum strength in different times.

Don't dry the cast by a heater or with a hair dryer, as you will burn your skin under the cast.

While it is drying, rest the cast on something soft, such as a pillow or in a sling (you will be advised how long to wear the sling for).

Cast care

Don't walk on your leg cast until you have been fitted with a cast shoe and your doctor says you can.

Don't chip, crush, cut, or break your cast.

Don't get the cast wet (unless it's a waterproof cast). Moisture will weaken or destroy the cast and can damage your skin underneath the cast. When you bath or shower, wrap a towel around your plaster and cover it with a well-sealed plastic bag. You may be able to buy a waterproof liner.

Self care

The cast will help to reduce the pain of your injury, but you may still need pain relief, which your doctor will prescribe. Follow the instructions you've been given.

There may be swelling for the first few days so keep your limb and cast raised (elevated). If your arm or hand is in a cast, do the exercises in Exercises of your arm and hand while in a cast. If your leg or ankle is in a cast, move your toes.

Sometimes you can get itchy underneath the cast. Don't insert anything under the plaster (a back scratcher, knitting needle, pen, or powder) to relieve itching. Doing so can damage your skin and cause infection. And pushing the padding further down into the cast can cause it to bunch up, resulting in pressure on your skin.

To help relieve the itching you can:

Remember to sponge the fingers or toes of the limb in the cast.

It's best not to play sport while you are in an arm or leg cast.


If your leg is in a cast, bring your crutches with you to every follow-up appointment in case your plaster is changed or removed. You may need them when you first come out of a cast, until your ankle loosens up and you become confident walking again without the protection of the cast.

Return all crutches to where you got them from when you no longer need them.


Contact the department you were first seen at if you have any concerns or you are experiencing any of the following problems:

On the next page: Deep vein thrombosis and plaster casts

Information provided by the Canterbury DHB. Adapted by the West Coast DHB. Last reviewed February 2017.

See also:

Driving with an injury

Flying in a cast


Image courtesy of marin at

Page reference: 232266

Review key: HILWI-174362